VCU Builds Confident Plan with Facilities Assessment Solutions

Challenge: More Space than Funding

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public research university with a wide array of programs and institutes that support their mission to advance knowledge and student success. Over the last 20 years, VCU has seen tremendous growth. Strategies to increase enrollment and space over this period were successful, growing enrollment by 30% and campus space by 44%. But the growth spurt yielded disproportionately more space than enrollment, leaving campus budgets unable to sustain facilities staffing and expenses. Budget-driven staff reductions and acquisitions of buildings with existing needs backlogs amplified these issues.  

VCU needed a way to assess the scale of their facilities needs backlog across the entire campus, understand what operational resources were needed to reduce future backlogs and tie capital and operating stories together in order to develop effective strategies going forward. 

Solution: Facilities Assessment and ROPA Review

VCU utilized Gordian’s Sightlines Assessment and Planning solution and Sightlines Return on Physical Assets (ROPA) review process to establish a unified understanding of their current challenges and identify areas of future vulnerability. A facilities assessment revealed an initial $300 million of facilities needs that either existed or would come due over the next three years. A strategic analysis and funding portfolio were developed with these findings, showing VCU how best to use current and future dollars to address the 14% of facilities needs that presented the greatest risk to their mission.  

A facilities assessment revealed an initial $300 million of facilities needs.

The ROPA review process found VCU’s facilities operating budgets were 6% below peer organizations. It also showed that shortages in staff and material resources would continue to increase current urgent needs. Staffing shortages were particularly acute, with nearly 20% of the current workforce reaching retirement age by 2020. ROPA helped VCU combine this staffing challenge with evolving skill requirements to create updated employee requirements and realistic compensation packages to attract potential hires.

The State of Facilities in Higher Education 7th Edition

Result: A Confident Plan for a Sustainable Future

While a difficult number to digest, the scale of the facilities needs the campus faced was made manageable by a thoughtful, forward-focused plan that strategically addressed key needs and minimized risk. This coherent plan allowed VCU’s leaders to confidently establish new funding for capital needs. Careful articulation of skillsets enabled a collaborative effort with Human Resources to redesign position listings, ensuring the right skills will be in place to care for the campus into the future. 

Gordian

About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Sightlines Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.